Powerful deep Arctic Ocean geological heat flow forces have just sent us a very obvious signal, but are climate scientists listening? The answer is no, however geologists hear it loud and clear!
As winter begins to settle in across the Arctic Ocean and sea ice extent rapidly expands, a very interesting high temperature and low salinity hole has just been punched in the sea ice at a very telling location: directly above the deep ocean Gakkel Ridge Rift / Fault System (Figures 1, 2, and 3).
This world class plate tectonic pull-apart rift is a 1,000-mile-long fault system on the seafloor that has in recent past pulsed massive amounts of heat into the overlying ocean and thereby melting large portions of the ice that floats above the heated ocean column.
So what if anything is to be learned from the recent October 12 geologically induced deep-ocean floor heat pulse that punched a small hole in the Arctic sea ice? Many things, most of which have surprisingly large implications concerning the entire climate change discussion.
Here is how it works:
Climate scientists who favor the theory of man-made global warming have maintained for many years that the accelerated melting rate of the Arctic sea ice during the 1999-2007 time period was entirely due to man-made CO2 emissions which acted to rapidly warm the atmosphere. This unusual Arctic melting was greater than the melting rate associated with Earth’s ongoing and very normal 11,500-year-long post-glacial period melt rate.
Many climate scientists have begrudgingly stuck to this human-induced atmospheric warming story even though diverse and compelling amounts of data have now cast serious doubt on this hypothesis. It is clear to most scientists that non-atmospheric natural forces play the dominate role in driving sea ice extent and thickness such as well known variations in Earth’s astronomical orbit patterns, long-term cyclic changes in deep-ocean current patterns, and most importantly variations in geologically induced heat and chemically charged fluid flow from deep ocean faults and volcanoes (see previuos CCD posts).
The small geologically induced deep-ocean heat and fluid flow event of October 12 eloquently demonstrates that geological forces are still active and have the power to alter Arctic climate and climate-related events, melt sea ice.
Keep in mind this latest October 12 event is not associated with obvious earthquake swarms and proven volcanic eruptions as was the case during the 1999 – 2007 event. This earlier event was powerful but not obvious to those who did not understand its true nature. Even though it was associated with an extensive low intensity earthquake swarm, a huge methane release, and a significant series of volcanic eruptions along the Gakkel Ridge it was, and still is dismissed as insignificant by most climate scientists advocating the theory of man-made global warming.
However many other scientists now realize that the 1999-2007 Gakkel Ridge heat and chemically charged fluid flow event was the root cause of accelerated the Arctic sea ice melting rate. An event that fits well with the Plate Climatology Theory, geological forces strongly influence climate.
Next let’s discuss the associated atmospheric methane release from the March 2014 Gakkel Ridge 5.4 magnitude earthquake and the more extensive atmospheric methane release associated with the 1999-2007 Gakkel Ridge mega-heat and fluid pulse.
OK fine. However, what does methane release have to do with melting sea ice? Works like this.
The volume of methane gas seen in the ocean above known fault zones is an indication of the magnitude and duration of heat and fluid flow release along fault zones. These fault zones, such as the Gakkel Ridge, open up fractures which penetrate deep into the earth tapping pockets and layers of methane gas. When a geological event occurs such as an earthquake or movement in a deep rock magma chamber, faults act to provide a vertical escape conduit up and into the overlying ocean for both heat and methane. So more methane equates to more heat.
Importantly huge amounts of methane were noticed in the Arctic Ocean waters during the 1999-2007 time period , especially in the Laptev Sea area.This strengthens the notion that this event also expulsed huge amounts of ice melting heat. The March 2014 5.4 magnitude earthquake along the Gakkel Ridge was associated with a measurable methane release as observed by NASA remote sensing satellites.
The 1999-2007 accelerated Arctic ocean sea ice melt rate was an indeed an anomalous event, but not in the way most climate scientists envision. It was at the time one of the primary rationalizations behind substantiating the atmospheric global warming “hockey stick” graph. A hockey stick graph that was in large part one of the reasons two Nobel Peace Prizes was awarded.
Funny how things sometime turn out. Who would have believed that a seemingly insignificant and very small hole in the Arctic sea ice could have such major implications: It’s not all about man-made atmospheric warming. Geological forces are alive and well in the Arctic ocean and for that matter across much of planet earth.
James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 41 years and who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. Years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate.